Car giant Ford has announced plans to triple its autonomous testing fleet in order to accelerate development of its virtual driving software.
In an announcement issued yesterday, the company said that the plan to increase the number of the self-driving test car fleet to around 30 is part of its Smart Mobility plan.
Ford will use a new, lower cost LiDAR sensor made by California-based Velodyne, making it the first automaker to use Velodyne’s new solid state “hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto” sensor.
These sensors have a range of 200 m (656 ft) and, according to Ford, are the “first auto-specific LiDAR sensors capable of handling different driving scenarios.”
“Using the most advanced technology and expanding our test fleet are clear signs of our commitment to make autonomous vehicles available for millions of people. With more autonomous vehicles on the road, we are accelerating the development of software algorithms that serve to make our vehicles even smarter,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer.
”Adding the latest generation of computers and sensors, including the smaller and more affordable Solid-State Hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto sensors helps bring Ford ever closer to having a fully autonomous vehicle ready for production,” said Jim McBride, Ford technical leader for autonomous vehicles.
The company also said that it has begun exploring ways to link in-home automation devices such as Amazon.com Inc’s Echo to the Sync communications systems in its cars to allow consumers to control lights or thermostats inside the home from the car, or start up cars and check fuel levels from inside the house.